Introduction

OUTSIDER project celebrates world-renowned Chicago artist Henry Darger’s birthday

OUTSIDER project celebrates world-renowned Chicago artist Henry Darger’s birthday

Album cover with original artwork: Henry Darger, Spangled Blengins. Edible. Boy King Islands. One is a young Tuskerhorian the other a human headed Dortherean. © Kiyoko Lerner / ADAGP, Paris. Layout Thibault Geffroy.

April 8, 2021—CHICAGO—French musician Philippe Cohen Solal found material ripe for musical expression in Chicago-born author and artist Henry Darger’s drawings, paintings, writings, life story and lyrics. The award-winning Cohen Solal drew from Darger’s oeuvre to compose OUTSIDER, an album and transmedia project honoring the renowned outsider artist. In celebration of Darger’s birthday on Monday, April 12, Intuit partners with Cohen Solal and Museé d’Art Moderne de Paris (MAM) on the launch of OUTSIDER, in which Cohen Solal will present an excerpt from the project live from MAM on the website outsideronline.co/ at noon central time.

In the baroque pop album OUTSIDER, musicians Philippe Cohen Solal, Mike Lindsay, Adam Glover and Hannah Peel turn Darger’s paintings and writings into melodies. The album is available now on streaming platforms and outsideronline.co/, an immersive bilingual website featuring music videos and a short film. Releasing in English on Wednesday, April 14, the accompanying bilingual podcast retraces Darger’s story through the testimonies of the people who knew him and studied and exhibited his work. Hear stories from the artist’s former landlord, Kiyoko Lerner, and learn more about the Henry Darger Room Collection, which Cohen Solal used as inspiration, from Intuit President and CEO Debra Kerr.

“It’s exciting to see Darger’s influence in new mediums. Philippe has long been inspired by both seeing the artworks in person and his visit to the Henry Darger Room at Intuit. As Darger is Intuit’s most closely associated artist and many people’s entry to the genre of outsider art, I’m always interested to see new creativity catalyzed by his story and body of work,” says Kerr. “In this case, Philippe and his colleagues have treated Henry’s legacy with the utmost respect, honor and care. Darger’s story is shrouded in mystery, and I am happy when new interpretations stay true to what we know and can uncover with rigorous scholarship. I send my warm congratulations.”

Although Darger and his mysterious artwork have been of interest to the art world for several decades now, the outsider artist lived life in obscurity as a hospital janitor. Lerner’s husband, Nathan, discovered Darger’s work shortly before the artist’s death in 1972, and the couple shared it with outsider art enthusiasts and scholars who became fascinated by him over time.

As the pandemic keeps people removed from one another, an exploration of the notably isolated Darger is especially relevant. Cohen Solal’s interest in and repurposing of Darger’s work into new artforms speak to the universality and timeless emotional rawness of the late creator’s life and work. Celebrate Darger’s legacy at this commemorative program that is sure to delight and inspire fans around the world.

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ABOUT INTUIT

Founded in 1991, Intuit is a premier museum of outsider and self-taught art, defined as work created by artists who faced marginalization, overcame personal odds to make their artwork, and who did not, or sometimes could not, follow a traditional path of art making, often using materials at hand to realize their artistic vision. By presenting a diversity of artistic voices, Intuit builds a bridge from art to audiences. The museum’s mission—to celebrate the power of outsider art—is grounded in the ethos that powerful art can be found in unexpected places and made by unexpected creators.

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